Saturday, November 19, 2005

Congress Gives Itself A Wartime Holiday Bonus

While the teachers in our district here in California's "Imperial" Valley have received no increase in their take-home pay in four years, (despite consistently rising test scores) those people in Washington made sure that they got their annual pay raise, and then promptly went on a two week vacation:
The Republican-controlled Congress helped itself to a $3,100 pay raise on Friday, then postponed work on bills to curb spending on social programs and cut taxes in favor of a two-week vacation.

The cost-of-living increase for members of Congress which will put pay for the rank and file at an estimated $165,200 a year marked a brief truce in the pitched political battles that have flared in recent weeks on the war and domestic issues.

So much so that the issue was not mentioned on the floor of either the House or Senate as lawmakers worked on legislation whose passage will assure bigger paychecks.
Like many, I clearly remember when the Republicans used to promote themselves as the party of Small Government and financial restraint. Considering all the record-breaking runaway pork barrel spending and the establishment of all-powerful highly-centralised Administrative Empires centered in Washington, I think that it's safe to assume that those days are long gone.

I read somewhere that thanks to the
gerrymandering of Congressional districts, fundraising advantages, and a variety of other schemes that are built-in to "game" the system for incumbents, over 90% of Representatives and Senators are nearly automatically re-elected each voting cycle.

Many law-abiding Americans would think that what the Congress is doing is illegal, as the
27th Amendment to the US Constitution clearly states:
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.
The way that the irresponsible elected for life spendthrifts Congress gets around that law is by calling these annual pay raises "cost of living adjustments" (COLAs) rather than pay raises.

Only the United States Congress could get away with such shenanigans.

Interestingly, our school district doesn't use the term "cost of living adjustment," to describe an increase in salary, but prefers the label "pay raise" for any and all increases in take home pay and health insurance premiums and other items that used to be called "fringe benefits."

If Congress wanted to do something useful for teachers, maybe it could pass a law that would permit teaches who are currently shackled to their jobs by outmoded seniority rules escape from school districts that have toxic work-environments and transfer their seniority to districts that are dedicated to fostering a culture of educational excellence and high employee morale.
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